NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) is the body that is responsible for stock-car racing in the more significant parts of America. The company was founded in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1948. The car competitions are in six categories: the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and ARCA Menards Series. In the U.S, the sports are most dominant and loved in North Carolina.
The car involved in the NASCAR competition is of high speed with an average of 321 km/h. In 1987, a Ford Thunderbird car recorded the highest speed in NASCAR’s competition by peaking at 342 kph at Talladega, and Bill Elliot was driving the car. Due to the high car- speed of the cars involved in the competition, high levels of safety and security are put in place. Nevertheless, they have never managed to eliminate the chances of crashes. Here are the ten worst NASCAR Crashes in history.
10. Ryan Newman- 2020 Daytona 500
So many safety measures have been implemented to minimize the chances of crashes in the era. However, 2020 competitions brought out one of the most dangerous crashes in recent history. Ryan Newman was the man at the center of this strategy. He was leading in the race’s final lap when he blocked Ryan Blaney, who wanted the checkered flag. Unexpectedly, Blaney caught him at the right rear and sent him head-on into the outside wall. Neman’s car went upside down due to the impact, and then the real drama followed. Carey Lajoie, driving at 180 miles per hour, hit him from the back.
The impact forced Newman’s car to slide down on its roof to the end pit of the road. The car was so smashed that it took aiders almost 20 minutes to get Newman out of the car. In the process, he lost consciousness but did not receive life-threatening injuries. The crash was an awakening call to NASCAR that drivers’ safety was yet to be achieved as far as crashes are concerned. After three months, Newman was able to go back into action though many people expected him never to show up again.
9. Ricky Rudd- Atlanta, 1990
The Ricky Rudd crash of 1990 at Atlanta showed how NASCAR had been negligent in designing and implementing third parties in its races. During the year’s final race in Atlanta Journal 500, Bill Elliot’s car developed some mechanical problems, requiring a tire change. Then guess what the hell happened! Ricky Rudd lost his car’s control and spun into Mike Rich, Elliot’s rear tire changer, pinning him between the two cars.
Mike Rich died after being rushed to the hospital. There was outrage from both local politicians and fans in equal measure. Notably, Mick Rich did not die in vain; NASCAR started implementing pit road speed limits at all tracks besides requiring pit crew to have protective gear at all times. As of today, any pit crew found not in proper protective gear is liable to face a NASCAR-approved punishment matrix.
8. Richard Petty- 1970 Darlington
Richard Petty was in a family with a passion for NASCAR racing. In this crash, Petty’s car snapped to the left when he was coming off turn four. The car’s impact was so high that it hit the inside wall and broke it. His car flip-flopped multiple times, creating one of the most horrifying scenes ever witnessed in the c competitions history as it came to rest by its roof. The broadcast showed the horrifying video of Petty’s body dangling out of the window.
People confused his red flag, which had fallen on the pavement, with his blood. After being taken to the infield medical facility, experts recommend that he be rushed to the local hospital. His father reported to the media that Petty was doing well. This tragedy prompted NASCAR safety officials to make a mandatory recommendation that all cars in the competition be fitted with window nets to minimize the chances of drivers flying through them in case of any incident.
7. Bobby Allison- Talladega, May 3, 1987
Bobby Allison’s vehicle encountered debris in the crash, making its tire burst. Because the car was at high speed, it became airborne, and it launched into the catch fence, the steel separating the crowd of spectators from the racetrack. The high force impact made the vehicle smash a hole through the fence though it did not reach the stands. Several fans were injured by shrapnel and debris, with one woman almost losing her eye.
The tragedy led to the introduction of mandatory restrictor plates. The restrictor plates help cap the engine speeds ensuring that they do not go too high hence making their maximum almost at the same level, only giving talent and teamwork to the only guiding factors in winning a race. Though crashes are not things we wish to happen, the majority of the crushes in which Allison was involved had far-reaching implications, as witnessed in a truck crash in which he was involved in Feb. 2000, leading to the introduction of restrictor plates in trucks as well.
6. Steve Park- Darlington, 2001
According to Sports Casting, Steve Park was one of the most promising drivers in NASCAR whose carried was derailed by several crashes. Though he had been involved in another crash in 1997, the one in 2001 was very devastating. The same year when NASCAR lost Dale Earnhardt at the Daytona 500.
In September of the same year, he would see a total change in his career when participating in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. In an interview with one of the local stations, he said that although he had prepared for the race, his car’s steering wheel came off. This resulted in his car veering to the left across the track. Larry Foytho’s car, which was behind him, T-boned Park. He sustained several injuries, which included speech impairment and brain damage. The driver blames himself for the whole strategy.
5. Michael McDowell- 2008 Texas
NASCAR rarely experiences crashes at the qualifying states, but that was not the case for Michael McDowell in 2008. His first qualifying lap went well, only for hell to break loose during the second one. As he was going to make turn one, his car loosened. He attempted to save it, but instead, it overcorrected itself and smashed the outside wall at a recorded speed of 180 miles per hour.
Due to the high-impact force, the car turned upside down. The car flip-flopped twice before rolling down the banking. Luckily enough, his car landed on its wheels. Relief bestowed the stadium when all saw the driver getting out of his car. For those watching the race, the announcer was highly terrified. Analysts argued that if it were not for the safer barriers added to the tracks in the 2000s, this would have probably resulted in the driver’s death.
4. Rusty Wallace- 1993 Talladega
Rusty Wallace is reported to be one of the most incredible drivers of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wallace had commanded the first 43 laps at the 1993 Talladega, then boo! The worst happened. Dale Earnhardt bumped into his rear bumper, and the contact made Wallace airborne. His Pontiac’s tail went high like a small plane taking a flight. The vehicle then tumbled, rolled, and bounced six times, sending its debris as far as 200 yards away. In the crash, neither the spectators nor Wallace was injured. According to Autoweek, most analysts argue that if the incident could have happened next to the grandstands or if there were no fencing then this would have been one of the deadliest accidents ever. The ability of the race road security features to minimize accidents caused by flying objects was tested at this time.
3. Dale Earnhardt- Daytona 500, February 18, 2001
In the minds of lovers of NASCAR racing competition, February 18, 2000, will remain in their mind because that marks when they saw one of the deadliest crashes, which led to the death of Dale Earnhardt. On the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, the deceased came into contact with Sterling Marlin and Ken Schrader, making him crash into the retaining wall. Dale sustained a basilar skull fracture, and upon reaching the Halifax Medical Center, he was pronounced dead at 1716 Hours.
Dale was the fourth driver killed by a basilar skull fracture within eight months. The outcome of the crash was the introduction of the SAFER barrier rules, banning the black #3 paint scheme, and mandatory use of HANS devices during the racing. In addition, the incidents marked the start of developing a roof-hatch escape system and the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow, which was considered safer. Since his death, the competition has not recorded any other death.
2. Carlos Pardo’s Fatal Crash- NASCAR Corona Series, 2009
Carlos Padro was one of the most decorated Mexican motorsports drivers. He has participated in 74 NASCAR Corona Series competitions and has won 8 of them. During the 97th lap of a 100-lap NASCAR Mexico Corona Series at Puebla, June 14, 2009, Carlos had a crash that costed him his life. With the few remaining laps, Jorge Goeters attempted to overtake the deceased at turn three, and he ended up tapping his car from behind.
The contact sent Pardo spinning out of control, and Padro smashed into a wall behind a pit lane at a speed of 120 miles per hour. The car was fitted with a Fitch barrier and water drums to reduce the collision’s impact force; he could not make it because he was at high speed. Medics attempted to rush him to the nearest hospital using a medical helicopter, but he was later declared dead. During the crash, he was the
1. Geoff Bodine- 2000 Daytona
On February 19, 2000, NASCAR driver Geoffrey Bodine was involved in the scariest crush ever recorded. This was the first time the Truck Series had raced at Daytona. At the 57th lap, there was a cut-throat competition among Kurt Busch, Rob Morgan, and Lyndon Amick. The crush started with Morgan and Busch; at this point, Morgan turned down into Amick, and the two trucks crushed Geoff Bodine, whose truck was thrown off the ground and went into the fence.
After that, Bodine’s fuel cell went apart, causing a huge flame. According to Washington Post, the driver broke his right twist, suffered a concussion, and fractured his vertebrae in the middle of his back. In total, the crash involved 12 other vehicles. Several spectators were involved in the crash, with nine being treated for injuries; two were severely injured to the extent that they had to undergo various surgeries. During the crash, the trucks were racing at an approximate speed of 185 miles per hour.
What Can We Learn from the 10 Worst NASCAR Crashes in History?
If you analyze all these crashes, you will first notice that they happen at the race’s final stages. At this phase, every driver is focused on winning the race, no matter the cost. The desire by the drivers to be on the podium overwrites their sense of safety at this level. Secondly, you shall notice that NASCAR is more reactive in formulating its safety and security measures. For example, did the body have to wait until Ricky Rudd smashed into Elliot’s tire changer to notice that there was the need to have third parties not repair the cars on the main track?
However, though the body relies on an incident-driven policy, it must be applauded for its actions so far, more importantly, to minimize the death of drivers in its competitions. Equally, some notable negligence cases of unethical wins have resulted in crashes. Perhaps it is high time we think of some actions, such as blocking an opponent to win a race with the resultant effect of causing an accident. Though not prominent in this article, why would NASCAR allow drivers to celebrate winning by pulling some of their body parts through the windows?
To whom much is given, much is expected. NASCAR must invest in research and continuously review its safety rules, designs, and implementation. The relevant authorities should pass laws that do not tolerate any form of negligence from the company. Heavy punitive fines must be set, and gruesome compensations must be awarded to those who get injured or die out of these crashes.
Nobody should leave home with an expectation that something wrong may happen, leading to their loss of life during the competition. If all is done well, SASDCVAR competitions shall remain one of the most significant sources of income for host communities and governments.